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N. R. Tucker

The Worlds of My Mind

Category

Flash Fiction

Stories (1,000 words or less) written by N. R. Tucker. Some are set in the worlds of the various book series. Plot spoilers will be identified.

The Memorial

Josh checked his watch and yelled, “We’re gonna be late.”

Janie moved unhurriedly down the stairs in a tasteful, black dress. 

Josh looked his sister over. “It took you that long to change out of work clothes?”

“No, silly. I had to redo my hair and makeup.” 

Her hair and makeup looked the same to him, but Josh knew if he said that she would disappear upstairs for another thirty minutes. “Fine. Let’s go.”

Arriving at five till six, they were early enough to keep Mom off their backs, and he got a parking spot in the shade. It was still spring, but the heat and humidity had been in the nineties for over a week. Josh cracked the car windows while Janie scooted out of the car. 

As soon as they opened the door to the building, Allen grabbed Janie and hugged her. “It’s about time. Our mothers are nuts.”

Jolene returned her cousin’s hug. “What can we do?”

“Neither of them can bring themselves to look in on Dad. They sent me. I don’t want to go in alone.”

“Of course not.” Janie took Allen’s arm and lead him down the hall. “Come on, Josh.”

Josh glared at his twin’s back. He had planned to skip this part, but he couldn’t leave Allen in the lurch. The trio walked down the center aisle. When Allen slowed, Josh shook his head, stepped forward, and looked in the casket. “We’re in the right room, aren’t we?”

“Of course. How does Dad look?”

“Well,” Josh grimaced, “he don’t look like himself.” 

Janie pushed her twin aside and looked in the casket. “Allen, did Uncle George want to be buried in a toupee?”

“What?” Allen took a deep breath and looked. “That’s not Dad.”

“That’s what I thought.” Josh nodded, pleased he was right.

“Where is he? And who is that?” Janie pointed at the unknown man.

“Don’t know,” Josh said.

“You’re the oldest,” Janie said while Allen’s head nodded in agreement.

The twins and their cousin were born on the same day. Josh was three minutes older than Janie and two hours older than Allen. Janie and Allen always threw down the age card when there was something distasteful to do. Josh saw the mortician through a tiny window in the door to the left of the casket. Knowing an argument would only prolong the enviable, Josh walked over to the side door and opened it. The mortician’s expression told Josh that grievers didn’t open that door. 

“Mr. Miller. Who’s this?” Josh pointed toward the casket

“George Anderson.” 

“No, sir. My uncle was bald and never wore a toupee. He also wore glasses.”

Mr. Miller, followed by an employee, stormed across the room, looked inside the casket, and ran past the kids, screaming. “Stop! Michael, stop.”

The employee stared wide-eyed at the casket with his mouth open.

“Got anything to tell us, Donnie?” Josh asked. 

“No. Not me.” He moved to step around Josh, but Allen blocked his escape.

 “Where’s Uncle George?” Janie asked.

Donnie shrugged. “Don’t know. Today’s my first day, but Michael’s been here forever. He’s down in the crematorium.”

“He’s…” Allen ran a hand through his hair. “Mom will come unglued.”

Mr. Miller rushed back into the room. “Stall them. Donnie, no one comes in.” Unlocking the wheels, Mr. Miller rolled the casket with the unknown man out of the room.

“Aren’t you pre-med? Why you here?” Josh asked.

“Home from college for the summer. Dad decided working in Uncle Brian’s mortuary would be a good experience.”

“Aren’t you supposed to heal people, not bury them?” Josh asked.

“Exactly what I said. And yet, here I am.” Donnie ushered the others into the hallway. “Watcha gonna tell your family?”

“What we won’t say is that Uncle George was almost cremated?” Josh pointed to the hallway that was now packed. “Forget age. Allen, you have to say something.”

Allen took a deep breath. “There’s been a slight delay.”

When the grumbling started, Janie said, “While we wait, we’ll share memories of Uncle George. Josh will start.” When Josh shot her a hard stare, Janie stepped into relative safety between Donnie and Allen.

Aunt Sharon dabbed her eyes. “Dear Joshua.”

The Swim

Stuck at a family reunion at Uncle Jerry’s cabin with no internet, no cell access, and no cable or satellite TV, the four cousins roamed the property. The only nearby village had the same lack of electronic access. With nothing else to do, they walked out the long pier and lay on their stomachs looking over the side into the water. 

“Wish we could swim,” Sally said. “Do you really think this lake is as deep as everyone says?”

“Don’t know. What I don’t get is why have a pier if you can’t fish or swim? I don’t believe those tales about some dangerous creature living in this lake.” Dean stood up, pulled a flat rock out of his pocket, and skipped it across the water. The entire lake was posted with no fishing and no swimming signs. It had long been a sore point with the kids.

Joey pointed under the pier. “Did you see that?”

“There’s nothing there.” Sally rolled over and looked up at the clouds. 

“Is too.” Joey leaned further over the pier. “That tail fin. See it? It’s huge.”

“I think I saw it.” Amy, the youngest of the four, always agreed with her older brother.

Dean peered into the water. “I don’t see nothing. I’m hungry. Let’s go see if any of Aunt Mary’s coconut cake is left.”

“Or those chocolate oatmeal cookies,” Amy said.

“No, wait. I saw something.” Joey leaned more of his body over the edge to get a closer look, and Dean pushed him in the water.

“That was mean.” Sally ran for the life preserver.

Laughing, Dean looked over the side of the pier, expecting to see Joey splashing around. Joey was a good swimmer.

“Wha…” Dean stepped back as Joey rose to the surface in the arms of… a merman. From the waist down the man sported scales and a long tail fin in place of his legs. There were also side fins where his knees and hips should have been.

Once the merman deposited Joey on the pier, he said, “Tell Jerry to have a care for his guests. These waters are not friendly.” The merman turned and dove back into the lake. The barbs running up his spine twinkled in the sunlight. The last the kids saw of the merman was his tail flipping out of the water.

Screaming at the top of her lungs, Amy ran toward the cabin. “Momma! A merman saved Joey. A real one. Momma!” 

Dean and Sally backed away from the edge of the pier, watching Joey, who dripped water on the planks as he stared at the lake.

Working Crown

Alone in the bedchamber, the child placed the crown on her head and used pins to hold it in place. It was a bit loose, but Rani supposed she would grow into it. King Rian Sword Born, had died suddenly leaving one heir. Was she up to the task? She had expected years of training by her father’s side before this day. She had even envisioned becoming a mother first. Queen Rani looked at the crown on her head. This was not the formal crown placed on her head at the coronation. This was the working crown. At least, that’s what King Rian had called it.

She placed two daggers in their sheaths somewhat hidden within the folds of her cape as her father had taught her. From the age of six, Rani had been taught to wield weapons. As she grew, so had her weapons. Kaiden, the Master-At-Arms, and her father were the only two who knew of this special training. With her father dead, Kaiden was the only person she trusted.

Twelve-year-old Rani, Queen of Greenvale, looked at her reflection in the mirror. Dressed as an adult, she still looked like a child. The court, especially her mother, would underestimate her.

Before walking out of the chamber, she dropped a small axe into a special pocket in each boot and smiled. By this evening she suspected she would be Queen Rani Axe Born. 

Foolish Question

“Your quest is to see Keen’s Keep?” The silver-green dragon twisted his long neck down so that his head was eye level with the teenagers and inhaled their scent. The boy was a hedge witch, the girl a shape shifter. 

Continue reading “Foolish Question”

Run

The unrelenting wind turned the raindrops into teeny-tiny missiles, flying sideways through the night. Continue reading “Run”

Sun Flames

“Don’t do it,” Dragon, my familiar, hissed. Continue reading “Sun Flames”

Cemetery Silence

What I wouldn’t give for a normal day. Continue reading “Cemetery Silence”

The Dream Catcher

I sat up with a start. Continue reading “The Dream Catcher”

Don’t Conjure What You Can’t Banish

Luna ran out the door through the smoke. Continue reading “Don’t Conjure What You Can’t Banish”

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